You can tell, because KRS-One made a record saying that it wasn’t.The funny thing about KRS’s track, and (even more) the video, is that it’s all about the past.
This story from the Onion is awesome in every respect:
“I’m gonna be a tractor,” Garretson said. “Tractors are fun.”
Although Garretson does not have a six-cylinder diesel engine, independent-link suspension, or a comfort command seat with air-suspension swivel, the 5-year-old said she was excited to be both red and shiny someday. Garretson added that as a tractor she would sleep in the barn with the cows and the chickens, but not with the pigs, because the pigs make too much of a mess.
But the reaction of the common man, woman, and child—”That? Why you can’t change that! You must be out of your mind!”—is closest to the truth (The Dialectic of Sex, 1).
I approve, of course, of Firestone’s call for the abolition of childhood. Her refusal to justify naturalized hierarchies is probably more intransigent, and more necessary, in this case even than in her anakysis of women’s oppression. But, as with her discussion of the biological roots of sexed oppression, there’s a frustrating gap in her account between the biological generalities and the historical specifics. Firestone of course recognizes that the particular forms taken by oppression are not fixed; but what remains unclear to me is where these particular forms of opression come from. If the biological is supposed to be determining, but the form taken by the biological is itself determined by something else, isn’t it the “something else” that is really determining (behind the curtain, pulling the strings, as it were)?
This problem is particularly apparent in the discussion of the oppression of children because, in Firestone’s account, the oppression of children seems to have only really got going relatively recently, some time in modernity. But surely the difference in strength between children and adults predated this; so what caused this continuum of capability to become interpreted as a difference between two kinds of people, children and adults? Firestone does suggest an intriguing reason for the rise of the ideology of childhood, although she doesn’t follow it up (and, indeed, it’s not obviously compatible with her overall analysis of children as an oppressed class).
The childmen and childwomen of medieval iconography are miniature adults, reflecting a wholly different social reality: children then were tiny adults, carriers of whatever class and name they had been born to, destined to rise into a clearly outlined social position (86).
The rise of the ideology of childhood, then, was also the rise of a group of people who were not (yet) carriers of a class and name, who were “innocent,” in the sense of unformed by a past or by connections with others. And when you start thinking of children like that, they start to seem a lot like the bourgeois subject.
A little while back, Warren Ellis wrote an appropriately sharp post describing the Technological Singularity as “the last trench of the religious impulse in the technocratic community.” The post is worth reading for its own sake, but it’s also fun to read the hilariously pissy trackbacks from members of the singularitarian community. Belief in the singularity, part of the belief system called extropianism and/or transhumanism, is a strange thing; it’s probably best to understand it as one of America’s quaint 19th century excentricities, like libertarianism or private health care. Read more↴